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The Complete Guide To Google Business Profile Reviews

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The Complete Guide To Google Business Profile Reviews

If you’re like most people, you prefer to work with businesses you trust.

That’s why we often turn to our family and friends to ask for referrals when looking for a particular business, product, or service.

And if we can’t find a referral from a person we trust, we frequently turn to online reviews as the next best thing.

Online reviews have become an integral part of the buyer’s journey, so much so that 77% of consumers now say they ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read online reviews when browsing for local businesses.

And the pricier or riskier the product or service, the more people pay attention to the reviews.

Google Business Profile Reviews Are Front And Center

Yes, there are plenty of sites with reviews including Yelp, Facebook, Better Business Bureau, and many more.

But because most people start out by searching on Google, they will often see Google Business Profile reviews front and center at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Screenshot from search for [best watches for sale in iowa city], Google, January 2022

It’s important that local businesses have Google Business Profiles that show a good reputation with solid, 5-star reviews from happy customers.

Why Reviews Matter To Local Businesses

Online reviews are important to local businesses for several reasons.

First, consumers rely on online reviews to help decide which local business to choose when it comes to products and services.

According to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Study, 92% of consumers said that negative reviews make them less likely to use a business.

Additionally, 79% of people said they trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation from friends or family.

So those little stars that show up on your Google Business Profile Knowledge Panel do impact what searchers think about your business and how they make purchasing decisions from your local business.

Another reason reviews are important is that they impact local rankings.

According to Whitespark’s 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors report, reviews can influence both the Google Local Pack and Local Finder rankings as well as local organic rankings.

Over the years of this report, there has been a steady increase in the perceived importance of reviews.

Whitespark Local Ranking Factor StudyScreenshot from Whitespark.ca, January 2022

The Google Business Profile Help Guide on How to improve your local ranking even says that reviews can help your local rankings:

How Google determines local rankingScreenshot from support.google.com, January 2022

Reviews can also make your Business Profile Knowledge Panel stand out more to searchers because Review Snippets can appear.

This gives potential customers a quick idea of the good points and highlighting other customers identified in their reviews.

Review snippetsScreenshot from Google, January 2022

Review snippets show the keywords most mentioned in your Google Business Profile reviews.

(These snippets are selected by an algorithm.)

The most common words and phrases related to the reviews you received appear in bold.

If you’re using the Google Maps App, you get more detail with the Review Snippets.

The common keywords in reviews are in bold and you can also see the number of people who have left reviews with that keyword in their reviews.

Review Snippets Maps AppScreenshot from Google Maps App, January 2022

All of this means you should do your best to get your happy customers to leave 5-star reviews on your Google Business Profile.

How Do You Access Reviews In Your Google Business Profile?

There are three ways to manage Business Profile reviews.

Since most merchants only have one Business Profile, Google makes it easy for you to manage your Business Profile directly from Google search.

You can also access your Business Profile from the Google Maps App.

The final way to access and manage your Business Profile is through the Business Profile Manager.

Note: Despite rumors that have been floating around, Google is not stopping its investment in the Business Profile Manager.

They even have a dedicated team focused on merchants with multiple profiles that are looking into making the dashboard even better!

Pro tip: Google will be retiring the Google My Business app in 2022, so now is the time to start using one of the three ways to manage Google Business Profiles and stop using the Google My Business App.

To get to your reviews in Google search, simply search for your business name or enter the words [My Business] in the search bar.

You will see your Business Profile manager panel on the left-hand side. From there you can manage your profile.

Manage Profile in searchScreenshot of Business Profile panel on Google.com, January 2022

To get to your reviews, click on Customers and then Reviews to start managing your reviews in Google search.

Manage reviews in searchScreenshot of Business Profile panel on Google.com, January 2022
Manage Reviews in searchScreenshot of Business Profile panel on Google.com, January 2022

You can also manage your Business Profile from the Google Maps App on your smartphone or tablet.

On the Maps App, you can either search for your business name or click on your account menu and then click on Your Business Profile.

Manage Reviews in the Google Maps AppScreenshot from Google Maps App, January 2022

Next click on Customers and Reviews.

From there, you can see all your reviews and manage them.

Use Google Maps App to access and manage your online reviewsScreenshot from Google Maps App, January 2022

You must be logged into your Business Profile email account when using the Google search and Maps App methods.

If you manage multiple Business Profiles, you can manage your reviews by logging into the Business Profile Manager.

Business Profile ManagerScreenshot of Business Profile Manager, January 2022

Click on the business profile you want to manage, then click Reviews.

 

 

Manage online reviews in Business Profile ManagerScreenshot of Business Profile Manager, January 2022

Alerts When You Receive New Reviews

When you get a new review from a customer, you’ll receive an email notification.

It’s a good idea to set a rule in your email program so that these emails jump out at you when you receive them.

New review email notificationScreenshot of Google My Business email, January 2022

If you use Google search to manage your profile, you’ll also see a notification of the new review in your Business Profile panel.

New review notification in searchScreenshot of Business Profile panel on Google.com, January 2022

And if you use the Maps App to manage your profile, you’ll also see that you have a new review there, too.

If you manage multiple profiles, log in to your Business Profile Manager, click on the business with the new review (or click the link in the email you received on your desktop) and click on Reviews to see your new review.

Reviews For Service Area Businesses Are Different

Normally, when a customer leaves a review for a business, they simply select the number of stars they think the business deserves (1 being the lowest rating, 5 being the best).

There’s a place where the person can write details about their experience and then there is a camera icon where they can upload a photo if they’d like.

Leave a review boxScreenshot of Review box, January 2022

But if you have a Service Area Business (SAB) where you go out to your customers’ location to service them – like a landscaper, tree trimmer, pest control company, garage door opener, etc. – the process for a customer leaving a review for your company may be a little different.

In many cases a customer can rate specific service aspects of your business, and these services are displayed directly on the Business Profile review form.

For example, if you run a landscaping company, your customers may see a review form that looks something like the one below:

Service Area Business ReviewScreenshot of Review box, January 2022

First, reviewers select their overall star rating for the business, then Google asks if they actually used the business.

Next, the customer is asked what services the company performed for them.

The reviewer can then share their feedback and upload a photo if they’d like to.

The services that show up in the review form come from the company’s Google Business Profile service list, the company’s website (if they have one), or the standard list of services based on the categories or other authoritative sources.

Tip: If there’s a service that’s not appearing in the review form that you’d like displayed, you can add it to your service list in the Business Profile Manager.

Service Review Details Can Help You Improve Your Business

Having this review information from your customers puts service businesses at an advantage and allows business owners to take that feedback to help improve their business.

First, you can see what words people mention frequently in their reviews – so you can see trends, both good and bad.

You can also sort the reviews by the Most relevant, Newest, Highest, and Lowest.

You can also see what service these reviewers hired you for, which is invaluable information.

Service Area Business Review SummaryScreenshot of Review box, January 2022

Additionally, in the summaries of the reviews, you can see “Positive” and “Critical” traits about your service business.

This gives you at-a-glance information about things you are doing right – and ways you can improve your business, process, or services.

See positive and critical comments in your reviewsScreenshot of Review box, January 2022

How To Read And Reply To Reviews On Google Business Profile

When a customer takes the time to leave a review for you, the polite thing to do is to reply to that review – whether it’s a good or bad one.

According to the BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey, when writing a review, 20% of consumers expect to receive a response (from the business) within one day.

Reviews from customers give valuable feedback on how your business is doing.

And even though no one likes to get bad reviews, negative reviews can draw your attention to areas in your business that you can improve on.

Things like an employee that may need help with customer service skills or a product that may not be working as it should, can be pointed out by bad reviews.

If you respond to negative reviews properly, you may even turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied one.

Replying to a Business Profile review is as easy as going to the review and clicking on Reply.

Replying to a review in searchScreenshot of Business Profile panel on Google, January 2022

Note: When a customer writes a review for your business, they can even upload photos –  making reviews even more interesting than ever!

If you’d like to Edit or Delete a reply you’ve made to a review, simply go to the reply, and click on the three dots next to the reply and you’ll be given those options.

This works no matter which way you manage your Business Profiles.

Note: If you edit a review response, the customer will not be alerted of the revised response.

Edit reviews in Google Maps AppScreenshot from Google Maps App, January 2022

Keep in mind that when people see your Business Profile, they will see both the reviews left for your business and your responses to those customer reviews – so be very careful what you say in your replies.

For instance, when you get a 5-star review, responding is much easier.

Good reviews are easy to respond to!

Be gracious and thankful for positive reviews.

Express your appreciation that they are a customer of yours and thank the reviewer for taking the time to leave their feedback.

If you get a negative review, pause and step away from your computer before responding.

(A cooling-off period is always good if a bad review upsets you.)

Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. When replying to a bad review, be polite and don’t get personal.

Thank the reviewer for their opinion and apologize if necessary.

But if a situation was out of your control, feel free to explain that, too.

Depending on the issue, you may want to tell them that you’ll investigate the situation with your employees.

It sometimes works to suggest that an unhappy customer contact you directly to discuss the situation.

That takes the discussion offline (and can possibly turn the negative review into a positive one.)

Whatever you do, don’t attack the person online and do not share personal information about the reviewer in public.

Note: The example below is not the ideal way to speak to an unhappy customer.

Bad owner response to a negative reviewScreenshot from Google search, January 2022

The best approach is to handle negative reviews as best you can by politely responding to them.

That shows people that see the responses online that you truly care about your happy customers and those that may not have had the best experience with your business.

Most people are also aware that a business is bound to get some bad reviews – and many people can spot “grumpy, hard-to-please” people who leave these types of reviews.

(And remember, you are not going to please everyone.)

How To Easily Get Reviews From Your Customers

Since reviews are so important to a local business, you should try to get reviews from happy customers.

One way to do that is to give customers a short URL that links directly to your Business Profile review form and ask them (politely) to leave a review for you.

You can put this URL at the bottom of your signature line in your emails, on a feedback card that people can pick up at your place of business, on your website, or on the bottom of your receipts.

Getting your short review URL is easy to do using any of the three ways to manage your Business Profile.

Using search, go to your Business Profile manager panel, click on Get more reviews and a Share box will appear.

You can then share your review link through any of the methods that appear, or you can copy the short URL and give that URL to customers.

Get short review URLScreenshot from Business Profile manager on search, January 2022

If you use the Maps App, you can easily request reviews from customers by searching for your business name, then go to the Get More Reviews panel and click Share Profile.

You will then see the text that will be shown to your customer when shared.

You can share multiple ways, but the most popular is via email or text message.

Always make sure you have permission to send emails or text messages before you send.

You can also copy and paste the short URL and use that via other methods.

If you manage multiple profiles, log in to your Business Profile Manager, select the business you want to create the short review URL for, and click on Get More Reviews.

Next click Share Review Form.

Get short URL for reviewsScreenshot of Business Profile Manager, January 2022

You can then either share the shortened review link via the options listed, or you can copy the shorted URL and share.

Short review URLScreenshot of Business Profile Request Reviews form, January 2022

It’s against Google review policies to solicit reviews from customers by offering an incentive or bribe for a review (i.e. “You’ll be entered into a contest to win X if you leave us a review.”).

You also cannot have a “review station” located at your business – like an iPad kiosk so people can leave reviews for you at your business.

If you get reviews that violate Google’s review policies, they will likely get reported and the reviews you received will probably be removed.

How To Remove Inappropriate Reviews

Google has policies on what people can and cannot say on reviews and other user-generated content on their platforms.

You may find that a review you receive violates one of those guidelines.

As an example, perhaps the consumer uses profanity in a review they left for your business.

You can flag inappropriate reviews that violate Google’s policies and request Google remove the review by flagging it as inappropriate.

(You cannot flag reviews you simply don’t like.)

If you have only one location, the easiest way to flag a review is through Google search or on the Maps App.

First, find the review that violates Google’s guidelines, then click on the three dots by the review and click Report Review:

Use the Maps App to report a reviewScreenshot of Google Maps App, January 2022

Next, select which of Google’s terms the review violates and then click the Report button.

You’ll receive an email in approximately 3–5 days with Google’s decision on whether or not they will remove the review.

If you have more than one location (but under 100 locations), then you can use the Review Removal Tool. (Make sure you’re logged in to your Business Profile email account.)

This tool makes it easy for you to flag and report reviews and check the status of reviews you’ve already reported.

While you’re logged into your Business Profile email account, visit the Review Removal Tool.

You’ll see all the businesses you have in that account.

Select the business that you’d like to report the review for and click the Continue button.

Review ToolScreenshot of Review Removal Tool, January 2022

Then select that you would like to Report a new review for removal and click Continue.

Report a new reviewScreenshot of Review Removal Tool, January 2022

Next, select the review that has the violation and click Report.

Report an inappropriate reviewScreenshot of Review Removal Tool, January 2022

You’ll then be asked what Google rule the review violates. After you choose the violation, click Report.

What rules did the review violateScreenshot of Review Removal Tool, January 2022

You will then see a Thank You screen letting you know that Google received your removal request.

You should also receive an email from Google letting you know they are reviewing your removal request.

How To Check Review Removal Status

To check a review removal status, go to the Review Removal Tool and select the business that you reported the review for and select the Check the status of a review I reported previously radio button.

If Google has evaluated the review and made a decision, you’ll see the ruling in the Decision column.

Review removal decisionScreenshot of Review Removal Tool, January 2022

 

Review removal: decision still pendingScreenshot of Review Removal Tool, January 2022

If you disagree with the ruling, you can Appeal eligible reviews – but be forewarned, it takes a lot to get a review removed after it’s already been evaluated and no policy violation has been found.

Remember, only flag or report reviews with content that violates Google policies.

Don’t flag reviews with content that you just don’t like.

Also, don’t flag reviews for people that you say “aren’t your customer.”

Google doesn’t get involved when merchants and customers disagree about things like that, since there’s no way to determine who’s right.

So be sure to read the policy before flagging a review.

After you flag a review, it can take a few days for a review to be evaluated by the Google Business Profile support team and for you to hear back with a ruling.

Most reviews are processed in about three days.

Note: To flag inappropriate third-party reviews – like hotel reviews – you must contact the third-party review provider directly.

After they remove or change the review on their website, the update will show on your Business Profile.

Help, Some Of My Customer Reviews Are Missing!

You may know about a customer review that just isn’t showing up in your Google Business Profile Knowledge Panel.

There are several reasons why reviews may be removed or not show up on a Google Business Profile.

In most cases, reviews are removed for policy violations like spam or inappropriate content.

Google uses automated spam detection to remove reviews that it considers to possibly be spam.

Google doesn’t reinstate reviews that were removed for spam reasons.

However, because spam detection isn’t perfect, some legitimate reviews may accidentally be removed.

For instance, if you have reviews that you feel were legitimate (i.e., not spam), and you were recently suspended, reviews can sometimes be removed from a Business Profile after a Business Profile reinstatement.

If you lost reviews when your profile was disabled or suspended and then reinstated, contact GBP support for help.

Also, if you recently had two Business Profiles merged, you may notice that some reviews take longer to show up on some platforms, like Google Search or Google Maps. Delays because of a merge should be resolved within a few days.

Note: If you set a future opening date for your business that hasn’t opened yet, reviews left before your business opens to the public will be removed.

If none of these scenarios fit your situation and you truly are missing legitimate reviews left by customers, contact Google Business Profile Support.

Google Reviews DO Matter

Google Business Profile reviews really do matter – but so do other review sites. Google often shows third-party review sites in a business’ Knowledge Panel.

So even though Google is by far the powerhouse when it comes to reviews, remember to also work on getting reviews from other review sites and monitoring/responding there, as well.

More resources:


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Gen Z Ditches Google, Turns To Reddit For Product Searches

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In this photo illustration, the Reddit logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

A new report from Reddit, in collaboration with GWI and AmbassCo, sheds light on the evolving search behaviors of Generation Z consumers.

The study surveyed over 3,000 internet users across the UK, US, and Germany, highlighting significant changes in how young people discover and research products online.

Here’s an overview of key findings and the implications for marketers.

Decline In Traditional Search

The study found that Gen Z uses search engines to find new brands and products less often.

That’s because they shop online differently. They’re less interested in looking for expert reviews or spending much time searching for products.

There are also frustrations with mobile-friendliness and complex interfaces on traditional search platforms.

Because of this, traditional SEO strategies might not work well for reaching younger customers.

Takeaway

Companies trying to reach Gen Z might need to try new methods instead of just focusing on being visible on Google and other search engines.

Rise Of Social Media Discovery

Screenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Gen Z is increasingly using social media to find new brands and products.

The study shows that Gen Z has used social media for product discovery 36% more frequently since 2018.

This change is affecting how young people shop online. Instead of searching for products, they expect brands to appear in their social media feeds.

1719123963 547 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Because of this, companies trying to reach young customers need to pay more attention to how they present themselves on social media.

Takeaway

To succeed at marketing to Gen Z, businesses will likely need to focus on two main things:

  1. Ensure that your content appears more often in social media feeds.
  2. Create posts people want to share and interact with.

Trust Issues With Influencer Marketing

Even though more people are finding products through social media, the report shows that Gen Z is less likely to trust what social media influencers recommend.

These young shoppers often don’t believe in posts that influencers are paid to make or products they promote.

Instead, they prefer to get information from sources that feel more real and are driven by regular people in online communities.

Takeaway

Because of this lack of trust, companies must focus on being genuine and building trust when they try to get their websites to appear in search results or create ads.

Some good ways to connect with these young consumers might be to use content created by regular users, encourage honest product reviews, and create authentic conversations within online communities.

Challenges With Current Search Experiences

The research shows that many people are unhappy with how search engines work right now.

More than 60% of those surveyed want search results to be more trustworthy. Almost half of users don’t like looking through many search result pages.

Gen Z is particularly bothered by inaccurate information and unreliable reviews.

1719123963 785 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Takeaway

Given the frustration with search quality, marketers should prioritize creating accurate, trustworthy content.

This can help build brand credibility, leading to more direct visits.

Reddit: A Trusted Alternative

The report suggests that Gen Z trusts Reddit when looking up products—it’s their third most trusted source, after friends and family and review websites.

1719123963 403 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Young users like Reddit because it’s community-based and provides specific answers to users’ questions, making it feel more real.

It’s worth noting that this report comes from Reddit itself, which probably influenced why it’s suggesting its own platform.

Takeaway

Companies should focus more on being part of smaller, specific online groups frequented by Gen Z.

That could include Reddit or any other forum.

Why SEJ Cares

As young people change how they look for information online, this study gives businesses important clues about connecting with future customers.

Here’s what to remember:

  • Traditional search engine use is declining among Gen Z.
  • Social media is increasingly vital for product discovery.
  • There’s growing skepticism towards influencer marketing.
  • Current search experiences often fail to meet user expectations.
  • Community-based platforms like Reddit are gaining trust.

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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data

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Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

More resources: 


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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